Skip to main content

Historic fleet of ships and aircraft play host to nationwide stargazing events at The National Museum of the Royal Navy

Date published 12/02/2024
HMS Warrior and Action Stations during the stargazing event at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The National Museum of the Royal Navy opened its historic fleet of ships and aircraft across their sites in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Yeovilton and Hartlepool to welcome over 1000 stargazing enthusiasts and curious minds for a journey through the cosmos.

Guests peered through telescopes, discovered how sailors and pilots navigate by the stars and delved deeper into the wonders of the Universe at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool with pop-up planetarium partners Wonder Dome.  

In Portsmouth Historic Dockyard at Action Stations and onboard Victorian battleship HMS Warrior, over 800 visitors attended the event jointly organised by the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The Stargazing event also saw astrophysicists and cosmologists give short talks on topics including black holes, satellites, and dark matter.  

Dr Jen Gupta, Associate Professor in Public Engagement and Outreach at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation said:

“Stargazing is always such a brilliant event, and we love being able to share our cosmology and astrophysics research with people of all ages. Although it ended up being cloudy and windy on the night, there was plenty on offer to engage the guests and it was great to see so many visitors.  

“This free event sells out every year, which shows that there is a real passion for science out there! We hope the public feel inspired by all the amazing work that goes on in and around our city and are grateful to all the exhibitors who gave up their evening to share their work at the event.”

Trudie Cole, Head of Programming and Visitor Engagement at The National Museum of the Royal Navy said:  

“Stargazing is a highlight in our national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning programme. Across our museums nationwide and working with much-valued partners and volunteers, it is a great way to connect our unique collections to the fascinating science of space.  

“It was a triumphant return for HMS Warrior post-pandemic, as the perfect setting to highlight the vital role of the stars in navigation in the past; another chance to work with the Royal Navy’s STEM engagement team, a fusion of cutting-edge science in contrast to the historical naval story of navigation.”

Amateur astronomers from Hampshire Astronomical Group, space engineers from Airbus Defence and Space, and the Dark Skies team from the South Downs National Park were all on hand to share their expertise and answer questions.

There were also exhibits from the Royal Navy, Space South Central, Seekers Create, In-Space Missions, Eureco Technologies Ltd, the Mary Rose Museum and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre.